Jonathan Cummings

How do you connect an ecosystem?

Scannable brands are connected brands, says Jonathan Cummings, President APAC at WPP’s Landor & Fitch

A scannable brand enhances the consumer experience by connecting the consumer with a broad brand ecosystem in a dynamic, personalised and hyper-relevant way triggered by the consumer; improving the overall value proposition.

WPP Scannable is a new platform that allows brands to intelligently deliver highly targeted, relevant and differentiated experiences at the moments when the consumer is most receptive, and the brand is most salient. Specific content may be triggered by location, time of day, nearby events or even the weather at that point in time.  

The scannable solution effectively turns a product into a brand’s own media channel. And questions around data privacy are also removed – this is about consumers opting into an enhanced experience, more information, connection and reward. 

And all of this is made possible by the humble QR code which acts as the gateway to a the brand’s ecosystem, opening the door to personalised curation of the brand’s content and all relevant experience associated with that brand. A QR is not necessarily the only tigger or gateway – it just so happens that it’s the most prevalent and useful connecting device that we have available to us today.  

What is more, the QR code is ubiquitous. Yes, it’s more prevalent in some markets than others, but scanning QR codes has become commonplace in the home, restaurants, at events and so on. In China, for example, it is so much part of everyday life, people use them without really thinking about it. Most advanced economies are similarly familiar with them, and others are playing catch-up. Brands who wish to harness the power of the QR code to connect consumers with their own ecosystems are pushing at an open door. 

What comes next? 

A great experience for the consumer is likely to be followed by a desire for more of the same. Brands who get it right and deliver excitement, community and a sense of belonging will be the winners.  

The goal is for there to be no dead ends; for brands to be able to tell the stories and deliver the experiences they want to tell in a connected and intuitive way. This is what has impact, builds stronger affinity with the brand and, ultimately, leads to brand growth. It must be so much more than a single-use, generically delivered campaign link.  

And this this thinking can apply to any business in any sector. Scannable brands can be B2B or B2C – ultimately, it's all about interaction. Governments, too, have a need to be connected to the people they serve so that information can flow backwards and forwards, thanks to the QR code. They provide a feedback loop and governments are picking up on their value. 

For example, in Hong Kong, trees planted in the urban areas carry QR codes. This makes it simple for concerned locals to scan the code and tell the authorities about any damage or disease. But it also allows people to become more educated about different tree species and thereby feel more connected to their environment. This is one way in which communities – today – are able to connect. 

Taking it to its logical conclusion 

Some of the world’s most sophisticated and loved brands are not short of touchpoints. Nor are they short of content and the ability to deliver great experiences. What many of them are missing is the ability to connect all the great marketing equity they have built over time, with all the brand love they have earned, with all their audiences they have engaged, in all the locations they occupy, and make all of that available to any consumer in a hyper-relevant manner. 

A simple QR code can connect activations, sponsorships and campaigns with individuals and consumers. Today, it’s not just about creating new content, but also about bringing it all together in a more organised and personalised way that is also relevant to the situation the consumer finds themselves in at a specific moment in time. It’s all about contextualising the experience. 

And locations are particularly important. Shopping malls, and everything that goes with them – car parks, restaurants, entertainment and, of course, shops themselves – are a good example. You can connect the whole shopping mall ecosystem through a QR code – from functional to inspirational – and it all becomes joined up and available to the consumer in a personalised package. 

The same is true of airports, sporting venues, festivals and so on. In every case technology is the enabler, not the driver. And the digitised user journey makes the experience for the consumer even more relevant. It also helps drive human interaction, not least when marketing data is combined with operational and other customer data (acquired, of course, with consent). 

In this way, brands can also differentiate themselves from their competitors, be relevant, more inspirational, more engaging, and build brand strength. 

Being connected is becoming table stakes for brands. Dead ends are the enemy of a strong customer experience and consumers simply expect interactions with brands to be seamless. Increasingly, brands cannot afford to miss out, and being a scannable brand is clearly being a connected brand. 

This article was first published by LBB

Jonathan Cummings

Landor & Fitch

published on

27 September 2023


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